Inspired by Joan of Castile (1479-1555) and her episode of life spent in grief and isolation, Anastatica explores ambiguous mental and physical conditions under institutional concepts of control and oppression through an expressive cinematic form shot on Super 8mm film. In an improvisational performance distinguished by a strong sense of space and design, integrating lighting, costume and architecture, the film creates surreal worlds between life and death, dream and poetry.
33:07 Minutes, b/w & colour, Super8 mm - 2K DCP, 2021
The production took place in various locations in County Kerry, Ireland such as:
Cahergall Stone Fort, Ballinskelligs Beach, Bray Head,
The Grotto Slate Quarry, Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park.
Writer, Producer, Director
Dagmar Gertot & Oli Ryan
Anastatica is funded by
The Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
Joan of Castile was the third child of the ‘Catholic Kings’, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile and her husband Philip the Handsome, Archduke of the House of Habsburg. Joan’s marriage with Philip, was initially marked by the couple’s great devotion to each other. But the couple were often separated, as Philip needed to spend long periods in the Netherlands while Joan had to show her presence in Castile. She suffered from her separation from Philip, who evidently did not take his vows of conjugal fidelity very seriously. Dramatic scenes of jealousy ensued, with Joan sometimes physically attacking her real or supposed rivals.
After the sudden death of Philip in 1506 her mental health deteriorated. Her love for her husband developed into a mania. She would not allow his mortal remains out of her sight, travelling for weeks with the coffin.
In 1509 on her father’s orders, Joan was taken to the convent of Tordesillas, where she was looked after by nuns of the Poor Clares until her death. She lived there in complete seclusion. Her mental state deteriorated over the years. She refused to practise any kind of personal hygiene and was neglected and abused by those around her. Alternating between total apathy and episodes of aggression, she now had only rare moments of lucidity.
Joan spent forty-six years imprisoned in the convent before her death at the age of seventy-five in 1555.
However, the actual degree of her mental disorder is difficult to assess, as the accounts of her behaviour were to some extent distorted by the interest of her father in undermining her authority as entitled Queen.
The Grotto, Slate Quarry on Valentia Island, County Kerry, Ireland
Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland